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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Chapter 5 - Animal Capital and the Lives of Sheep

from Part III - The Biopolitics of Animal Capital

Summary

This chapter explores intersections between animals produced for human consumption, liberal inclusion, and biopolitics, another strategy of governmentality. I first examine mid-century cattle industry reform and concerns over the treatment of animals raised for human consumption. By embracing notions of animal capital and profit to better regulate animal lives, animal welfare discourse showed how animal bodies can negatively or positively affect the wealth of the nation, depending on their treatment. I contrast this biopolitical discourse with Thomas Hardy’s concerns over the treatment of cattle, and his desire for animal justice and equality. After examining his own animal welfare, especially concerns about the cattle industry, I analyze his novel about shepherding and pastoral power, Far from the Madding Crowd, which employs what I call an affirmative biopolitical realism. Through focusing on the lives of sheep and enhancing them with his biopolitical realist techniques, Hardy offers an alternative ethic for relating with animals that values animals outside capitalist discourses of profit, ultimately positing a liberal inclusion that welcomes animals.